Conflict & Justice

5 recent hostage rescues that ended in tragedy


Ugandan African Union peacekeepers patrol the outskirts of Mogadishu on September 12, 2012. Somalia's president survived an assassination bid today, just two days into his new job, when bomb blasts claimed by Islamist rebels rocked the Mogadishu hotel where he was meeting Kenya's foreign minister. Al-Qaeda linked Shebab insurgents claimed responsibility for the attack in which two blasts rocked the hotel where the new president was staying.



Reports about possible fatalities in the hostage crisis at a BP gas field in Algeria serve as a grim reminder that hostage rescues often end in tragedy.

Here are five other recent hostage-takings that have had less-than-happy endings.

1. Somalia: Denis Allex, Jan. 2013

Rescuers: French special forces

Death toll: 1 hostage, 2 French commandos, 17 hostage-takers

French soldiers helicoptered into Bulo Marer, Somalia, on Jan. 12 to rescue Denis Allex, a French spy who was kidnapped by Al Shabab in Mogadishu in July 2009. "Very violent combat ensued," according to French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian. French officials said Allex died during the raid, likely killed by his captors. Al Shabab claims the group executed him on Jan. 16. Al Shabab also posted photos to Twitter of a French commando who was killed in the raid.

More from GlobalPost: Somalia: Al Shabab posts Twitter photo of dead French soldier

2. Afghanistan: Spozhmai hotel, June 2012

Rescuers: Afghan security forces, supported by NATO helicopters and Norwegian special forces

Death toll: 12 hostages, 4 security guards, 1 Afghan police officer, 5 hostage-takers

Five Taliban fighters stormed into the Spozhmai hotel on Qargha Lake near Kabul on a Thursday night and seized 50 hostages. Some guests escaped by jumping into the lake and swimming to freedom. The militants shot staff and guests throughout the night and next morning, while battling Afghan security forces, who were backed by NATO helicopters and Norwegian special forces. The siege ended when Afghan soldiers killed the last hostage-taker mid-morning on Friday.

More from GlobalPost: Afghanistan: Up to 17 killed in Taliban attack on lake resort near Kabul

3. Nigeria: Chris McManus and Franco Lamolinara, Mar. 2012

Rescuers: British special forces, supported by Nigerian soldiers

Death toll: 2 hostages

As many as 20 British troops attempted to free British citizen Chris McManus and Italian citizen Franco Lamolinara, employees of an Italian construction firm who had been kidnapped by members of the militant group Boko Haram in May 2011. After the Nigerian secret service uncovered information on their whereabouts, UK special forces surrounded the house in which they were being kept. The hostage-takers killed the men before troops could reach them. Italy later complained that it had not been consulted before the UK attempted the hostage rescue.

More from GlobalPost: Tensions between Italy and Britain over failed hostage rescue attempt

4. Somalia: Hijacked ship, Feb. 2012

Rescuers: Danish Navy

Death toll: 2 hostages

Two hostages died after a Danish warship fired on a cargo vessel hijacked by Somali pirates in the Gulf of Aden to stop the boat from leaving the coast with 18 hostages. The 17 hijackers onboard surrendered to the Danish Navy, and 16 hostages survived.

More from GlobalPost: Denmark: two hostages killed in anti-piracy raid

5. Philippines: Hong Kong tourists, Aug. 2010

Rescuers: Philippines police

Death toll: 8 hostages, the hostage-taker

Fired police officer Rolando Mendoza held a bus full of tourists from Hong Kong hostage in downtown Manila for nearly 12 hours as he negotiated to get his job back. After the bus driver escaped through a window — screaming, “Everyone is dead!” — police commandos smashed the bus windows with sledgehammers, threw tear gas canisters inside and shot Mendoza dead. Eight hostages also died in the standoff, but seven survived.

More from GlobalPost: Philippines: 12-hour hostage drama plays out on TV